The United States now relies on ground-based ballistic missile interceptors deployed in California and Alaska to protect Hawaii, but regional experts say these defenses would do little to guard USA territory in the Pacific against a North Korean ICBM, which officials believe is nearing completion. About 375,000 USA military and civilian personnel are assigned to the Pacom AOR.
Trump said the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system now being deployed in South Korea to defend against a potential missile attack from North Korea would cost about $1 billion and questioned why the United States was paying for it.
“But North Korea has to decide they’re ready to talk to us about the about the right agenda, and the right agenda is not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things”, he said, according to excerpts of an interview that will air Friday morning.
China have said the THAAD system’s advanced radar can penetrate deep into its territory and undermine its security. They say it is exclusively aimed at defending against North Korea.
Despite the friction with China over THAAD, Harris has been “encouraged” by China’s recent contacts with North Korea to try to influence its behavior.
Susan Thornton, the acting top USA diplomat for East Asia, said there’s debate about whether Pyongyang is willing to give up its weapons programs.
The drill marked the 85th anniversary of the founding of the North Korea’s armed forces, and heightened global worries that it may be preparing another nuclear test. “I believe that’s a significant lever China could employ against North Korea”, he said.
The North also practiced attacking a USA aircraft carrier with SU-25 air-to-ground attack aircraft, MIG-23 fighters, and Romeo-class submarines, using a desert island as a target. He has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the USA with a nuclear missile.
He added that de-escalation was the primary focus: ‘We want to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses – not to his knees, ‘ he said. The battery was expected to be operational by the end of the year, it said.
There’s also a chance that, instead of a nuclear test, North Korea would attempt to send another satellite into space, as it did in 2012 and again previous year. “It’s a billion dollar system”, Trump said. “I won’t say that they will, but I don’t share your confidence that they won’t”. Asked how Trump should respond to such an attempted launch, he replied: “That is one of the most hard decisions that would have to be made”.
Just hours before the entire U.S. Senate was due to receive a top-level briefing on North Korea at the White House, Admiral Harry Harris testified that he believed Pyongyang’s threats against the United States needed to be taken seriously.
North Korea, which on Tuesday conducted its biggest-ever artillery exercise to mark the 85th anniversary of its military’s creation, says it needs to develop weapons to defend itself from USA aggression. Many South Koreans oppose it, fearing they will become a target.
The May 9 election in South Korea could complicate Trump’s plans in other ways.
The system is controversial in South Korea.
He blamed the U.S.
North Korea’s United Nations Mission said if “total war” broke out with the United States it would respond with nuclear options.
“With every test, Kim Jong Un moves closer to his stated goal of a preemptive nuclear strike capability against American cities and he’s not afraid to fail in public”, said Harris.